The First Department, over a two justice dissent, determined plaintiffs’ experts had presented sufficient evidence to warrant a Frye hearing in this medical malpractice case. The plaintiffs’ baby suffered neurological damage caused by a rapidly growing tumor. The question tackled by the experts was whether the tumor was detectable prior to birth (ultrasound). The majority concluded plaintiffs’ experts had presented sufficient evidence that the tumor may have been detectable to warrant a hearing. The dissent argued the evidence presented by the plaintiffs’ experts was not sufficient to raise a question of fact:
Defendant’s experts established a prima facie case that the ultrasound studies were properly interpreted and that none of defendant’s acts or omissions caused the infant plaintiff’s alleged injuries. In light of plaintiffs’ expert opinions to the contrary, however, we cannot hold on the record presented to us that the opinions of plaintiffs’ experts are not generally accepted within the medical and scientific communities. Accordingly, the motion court properly set the matter down for a Frye hearing … to determine (1) whether it is generally accepted in the medical and scientific communities that a physician may offer an opinion to a reasonable degree of medical certainty as to when a tumor such as the infant plaintiff’s tumor would have been detectable by ultrasound examination; and (2) whether it was possible to use any formula, including a doubling formula, to assess whether a neuroblastoma would have been detectable at the ultrasound of the infant plaintiff performed at 30.9 weeks … .
The dissent’s assertion that the opinions of plaintiffs’ experts were “speculative” and “unsupported by the record” puts the cart before the horse. As noted above, plaintiffs’ experts based their opinions partially on peer-reviewed, published articles stating that routine prenatal sonography had detected fetal neuroblastomas. Whether the information conveyed in these articles has gained general acceptance in the medical community, and thus provides support for the opinions of plaintiffs’ experts, is precisely the topic of a Frye hearing. Sepulveda v Dayal, 2016 NY Slip Op 06949, 1st Dept 10-25-16
NEGLIGENCE (MEDICAL MALPRACTICE, PLAINTIFFS’ EXPERTS PRESENTED SUFFICIENT PROOF TO WARRANT A FRYE HEARING ON WHETHER A TUMOR MAY HAVE BEEN DETECTABLE BEFORE BIRTH)/MEDICAL MALPRACTICE (PLAINTIFFS’ EXPERTS PRESENTED SUFFICIENT PROOF TO WARRANT A FRYE HEARING ON WHETHER A TUMOR MAY HAVE BEEN DETECTABLE BEFORE BIRTH)/EVIDENCE (MEDICAL MALPRACTICE, PLAINTIFFS’ EXPERTS PRESENTED SUFFICIENT PROOF TO WARRANT A FRYE HEARING ON WHETHER A TUMOR MAY HAVE BEEN DETECTABLE BEFORE BIRTH)